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1.  Patent ductus arteriosus: lack of evidence for common treatments 
Patent ductus arteriosus (PDA) is a common diagnosis among extremely premature infants, especially in those with lung disease. Treatments are often used to close the PDA. Despite nearly three decades of research, the question of whether the benefits of treatments to prevent ductal patency or promote closure outweigh the risks of these treatments remains unanswered. The authors rarely use treatments designed to close the PDA. This article reviews three considerations in support of this restrained approach: rates of spontaneous closure of the ductus arteriosus; adverse effect of persistent ductal patency; and benefits and risks of treatments for closure.
doi:10.1136/adc.2005.092734
PMCID: PMC2675405  PMID: 17951552
patent ductus arteriosus; indomethacin; ibuprofen; ductal ligation
2.  Systemic inflammation associated with mechanical ventilation among extremely preterm infants 
Cytokine  2012;61(1):315-322.
Little evidence is available to document that mechanical ventilation is an antecedent of systemic inflammation in preterm humans. We obtained blood on postnatal day 14 from 726 infants born before the 28th week of gestation and measured the concentrations of 25 inflammation-related proteins. We created multivariable models to assess the relationship between duration of ventilation and protein concentrations in the top quartile. Compared to newborns ventilated for fewer than 7 days (N=247), those ventilated for 14 days (N=330) were more likely to have elevated blood concentrations of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, TNF-α), chemokines (IL-8, MCP-1), an adhesion molecule (ICAM-1), and a matrix metalloprotease (MMP-9), and less likely to have elevated blood concentrations of two chemokines (RANTES, MIP-1β), a matrix metalloproteinase (MMP-1), and a growth factor (VEGF). Newborns ventilated for 7-13 days (N=149) had systemic inflammation that approximated the pattern of newborns ventilated for 14 days. These relationships were not confounded by chorioamnionitis or antenatal corticosteroid exposure, and were not altered appreciably among infants with and without bacteremia. These findings suggest that two weeks of ventilation are more likely than shorter durations of ventilation to be accompanied by high blood concentrations of pro-inflammatory proteins indicative of systemic inflammation, and by low concentrations of proteins that might protect from inflammation-mediated organ injury.
doi:10.1016/j.cyto.2012.10.014
PMCID: PMC3518391  PMID: 23148992
inflammation; ventilation; preterm infant; cytokine; chemokine
4.  Prediction of Bronchopulmonary Dysplasia by Postnatal Age in Extremely Premature Infants 
Rationale: Benefits of identifying risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants include providing prognostic information, identifying infants likely to benefit from preventive strategies, and stratifying infants for clinical trial enrollment.
Objectives: To identify risk factors for bronchopulmonary dysplasia, and the competing outcome of death, by postnatal day; to identify which risk factors improve prediction; and to develop a Web-based estimator using readily available clinical information to predict risk of bronchopulmonary dysplasia or death.
Methods: We assessed infants of 23–30 weeks' gestation born in 17 centers of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Neonatal Research Network and enrolled in the Neonatal Research Network Benchmarking Trial from 2000–2004.
Measurements and Main Results: Bronchopulmonary dysplasia was defined as a categorical variable (none, mild, moderate, or severe). We developed and validated models for bronchopulmonary dysplasia risk at six postnatal ages using gestational age, birth weight, race and ethnicity, sex, respiratory support, and FiO2, and examined the models using a C statistic (area under the curve). A total of 3,636 infants were eligible for this study. Prediction improved with advancing postnatal age, increasing from a C statistic of 0.793 on Day 1 to a maximum of 0.854 on Day 28. On Postnatal Days 1 and 3, gestational age best improved outcome prediction; on Postnatal Days 7, 14, 21, and 28, type of respiratory support did so. A Web-based model providing predicted estimates for bronchopulmonary dysplasia by postnatal day is available at https://neonatal.rti.org.
Conclusions: The probability of bronchopulmonary dysplasia in extremely premature infants can be determined accurately using a limited amount of readily available clinical information.
doi:10.1164/rccm.201101-0055OC
PMCID: PMC3136997  PMID: 21471086
bronchopulmonary dysplasia; prematurity; low-birth-weight infant
5.  Early postnatal hypotension is not associated with indicators of white matter damage or cerebral palsy in extremely low gestational age newborns 
Objectives
To evaluate, in extremely low gestational age newborns (ELGANs), relationships between indicators of early postnatal hypotension and cranial ultrasound indicators of cerebral white matter damage imaged in the nursery and cerebral palsy diagnoses at 24 month follow-up.
Methods
The 1041 infants in this prospective study were born at < 28 weeks gestation, were assessed for 3 indicators of hypotension in the first 24 postnatal hours, had at least one set of protocol cranial ultrasound scans, and were evaluated with a structured neurologic exam at 24 months corrected age. Indicators of hypotension included: 1) lowest mean arterial pressure (MAP) in the lowest quartile for gestational age; 2) treatment with a vasopressor; and 3) blood pressure lability, defined as the upper quartile of the difference between each infant’s lowest and highest MAP. Outcomes included indicators of cerebral white matter damage, i.e. moderate/severe ventriculomegaly or an echolucent lesion on cranial ultrasound, and cerebral palsy diagnoses at 24 months gestation. Logistic regression was used to evaluate relationships among hypotension indicators and outcomes, adjusting for potential confounders.
Results
Twenty-one percent of surviving infants had a lowest blood pressure in the lowest quartile for gestational age, 24% were treated with vasopressors, and 24% had labile blood pressure. Among infants with these hypotension indicators, 10% percent developed ventriculomegaly and 7% developed an echolucent lesion. At 24-months follow-up, 6% had developed quadriparesis, 4% diparesis, and 2% hemiparesis. After adjusting for confounders, we found no association between indicators of hypotension, and indicators of cerebral white matter damage or a cerebral palsy diagnosis.
Conclusions
The absence of an association between indicators of hypotension and cerebral white matter damage and or cerebral palsy suggests that early hypotension may not be important in the pathogenesis of brain injury in ELGANs.
doi:10.1038/jp.2010.201
PMCID: PMC3145830  PMID: 21273984
hypotension; mean arterial blood pressure; cranial ultrasound; ventriculomegaly; echolucent lesion; cerebral palsy; extremely preterm infants
6.  Challenge of Reducing Perinatal Mortality in Rural Congo: Findings of a Prospective, Population-based Study 
Each year, an estimated six million perinatal deaths occur worldwide, and 98% of these deaths occur in lowand middle-income countries. These estimates are based on surveys in both urban and rural areas, and they may underrepresent the problem in rural areas. This study was conducted to quantify perinatal mortality, to identify the associated risk factors, and to determine the most common causes of early neonatal death in a rural area of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Data were collected on 1,892 births. Risk factors associated with perinatal deaths were identified using multivariate analysis with logistic regression models. Causes of early neonatal deaths were determined by physician-review of information describing death. The perinatal mortality rate was 61 per 1,000 births; the stillbirth rate was 30 per 1,000 births; and the early neonatal death rate was 32 per 1,000 livebirths. Clinically-relevant factors independently associated with perinatal death included: low birthweight [odds ratio (OR)=13.51, 95% confidence interval (CI) 7.82-23.35], breech presentation (OR)=12.41; 95% CI 4.62-33.33), lack of prenatal care (OR=2.70, 95% CI 1.81-4.02), and parity greater than 4 (OR=1.93 95% CI 1.11-3.37). Over one-half of early neonatal deaths (n=37) occurred during the first two postnatal days, and the most common causes were low birthweight/prematurity (47%), asphyxia (34%), and infection (8%). The high perinatal mortality rate in rural communities in the DRC, approximately one-half of which is attributable to early neonatal death, may be modifiable. Specifically, deaths due to breech presentation, the second most common risk factor, may be reduced by making available emergency obstetric care. Most neonatal deaths occur soon after birth, and nearly three-quarters are caused by low birthweight/prematurity or asphyxia. Neonatal mortality might be reduced by targeting interventions to improve neonatal resuscitation and care of larger preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC3225116  PMID: 22106760
Neonatal mortality; Observational studies; Perinatal mortality; Population-based studies; Prospective studies; Stillbirths; Congo
7.  Preconception maternal nutrition: a multi-site randomized controlled trial 
Background
Research directed to optimizing maternal nutrition commencing prior to conception remains very limited, despite suggestive evidence of its importance in addition to ensuring an optimal nutrition environment in the periconceptional period and throughout the first trimester of pregnancy.
Methods/Study design
This is an individually randomized controlled trial of the impact on birth length (primary outcome) of the time at which a maternal nutrition intervention is commenced: Arm 1: ≥ 3 mo preconception vs. Arm 2: 12-14 wk gestation vs. Arm 3: none.
192 (derived from 480) randomized mothers and living offspring in each arm in each of four research sites (Guatemala, India, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of the Congo). The intervention is a daily 20 g lipid-based (118 kcal) multi-micronutient (MMN) supplement. Women randomized to receive this intervention with body mass index (BMI) <20 or whose gestational weight gain is low will receive an additional 300 kcal/d as a balanced energy-protein supplement. Researchers will visit homes biweekly to deliver intervention and monitor compliance, pregnancy status and morbidity; ensure prenatal and delivery care; and promote breast feeding. The primary outcome is birth length. Secondary outcomes include: fetal length at 12 and 34 wk; incidence of low birth weight (LBW); neonatal/infant anthropometry 0-6 mo of age; infectious disease morbidity; maternal, fetal, newborn, and infant epigenetics; maternal and infant nutritional status; maternal and infant microbiome; gut inflammatory biomarkers and bioactive and nutritive compounds in breast milk. The primary analysis will compare birth Length-for-Age Z-score (LAZ) among trial arms (independently for each site, estimated effect size: 0.35). Additional statistical analyses will examine the secondary outcomes and a pooled analysis of data from all sites.
Discussion
Positive results of this trial will support a paradigm shift in attention to nutrition of all females of child-bearing age.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01883193.
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-111
PMCID: PMC4000057  PMID: 24650219
Preconception; Maternal; Nutrition; Birth length; Epigenetics; Microbiome
8.  First look: a cluster-randomized trial of ultrasound to improve pregnancy outcomes in low income country settings 
Background
In high-resource settings, obstetric ultrasound is a standard component of prenatal care used to identify pregnancy complications and to establish an accurate gestational age in order to improve obstetric care. Whether or not ultrasound use will improve care and ultimately pregnancy outcomes in low-resource settings is unknown.
Methods/Design
This multi-country cluster randomized trial will assess the impact of antenatal ultrasound screening performed by health care staff on a composite outcome consisting of maternal mortality and maternal near-miss, stillbirth and neonatal mortality in low-resource community settings. The trial will utilize an existing research infrastructure, the Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research with sites in Pakistan, Kenya, Zambia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Guatemala. A maternal and newborn health registry in defined geographic areas which documents all pregnancies and their outcomes to 6 weeks post-delivery will provide population-based rates of maternal mortality and morbidity, stillbirth, neonatal mortality and morbidity, and health care utilization for study clusters. A total of 58 study clusters each with a health center and about 500 births per year will be randomized (29 intervention and 29 control). The intervention includes training of health workers (e.g., nurses, midwives, clinical officers) to perform ultrasound examinations during antenatal care, generally at 18–22 and at 32–36 weeks for each subject. Women who are identified as having a complication of pregnancy will be referred to a hospital for appropriate care. Finally, the intervention includes community sensitization activities to inform women and their families of the availability of ultrasound at the antenatal care clinic and training in emergency obstetric and neonatal care at referral facilities.
Discussion
In summary, our trial will evaluate whether introduction of ultrasound during antenatal care improves pregnancy outcomes in rural, low-resource settings. The intervention includes training for ultrasound-naïve providers in basic obstetric ultrasonography and then enabling these trainees to use ultrasound to screen for pregnancy complications in primary antenatal care clinics and to refer appropriately.
Trial registration
Clinicaltrials.gov (NCT # 01990625)
doi:10.1186/1471-2393-14-73
PMCID: PMC3996090  PMID: 24533878
Maternal mortality; Maternal near miss; Perinatal mortality; Obstetric ultrasound; Low-income countries

Results 1-8 (8)